Thursday, September 29, 2016

Selfies, my way!

Here are the stories behind some of my outfit photos.  This post started out as a comment on one of Gorgeous Fabrics' posts-- why getting good outfit photos is so hard.  I thought I was merely being descriptive, but Ann thought it was hilarious.  Who am I to deny everyone a chance at some mirth? 

Exhibit #1:
(1)   Put on makeup. This is not straightforward because makeup that looks overdone in person looks just right or even understated in photos. In this photo, the makeup doesn’t stand out. In real life, the lipstick made me look like Crazy Goth Woman.

(2)  Convince my patient, long-suffering husband to drive me out to a nearby school and wait out in the cold for more than an hour so nobody mugs me in the dark.

(3)  Figure out where I should stand and where to set the DSLR up on the tripod so that the framing looked right and the camera would still focus on me, instead of, say, the railing, or the background.

(4)  Set up the light stand, the flash, and the softbox, and play with the orientation so that the lighting looked good.

(5)  Fiddle with the camera settings and flash power so that there was a good balance in the way the background and foreground were lit.

(6)  Take several hundred shots with different poses and expressions to be sure a handful of them would look OK.

(7)  Pack all my gear up.

(8)  Sort through the several hundred shots until I had maybe 10-20 that were acceptable.

(9)  Edit the 10-20 keepers in Lightroom.

(10) Decide which photo I liked the most.


Exhibit #2:
(1)  Drive to Cape Cod, where my in-laws generously offer to take us on vacation.

(2)  Spend several days observing when the angle of the sun is just right and when I can drag my patient, long-suffering husband along to the beach for an hour or so to take photos.

(3)  Choose between being unable to walk because my sandals get swamped with sand and fall off every two steps, and being unable to walk because OH MY GOD OW OW OW THOSE SEASHELLS. 

(4)  Set up tripod and camera.

(5)  Much trial and error getting the framing right and make sure the camera will focus on me and not the background, alternately setting up piles of seashells and digging holes in the sand to represent where I was standing during the last batch of photos.

(6)  Take a bajillion shots, hoping that my pose and expression looks reasonable in some of them.

(7)  Get honked and/or yelled at by all the cars driving by who wish to convey the sentiment that I am hot.

(8)  Pack up my gear, being extra careful to make sure I don't get sand in my camera bag.

(9)  See (3).

(10)  Sort through several hundred photos and pull out the ones that seem OK.

(11)  Edit the handful of keepers in Lightroom.


Exhibit #3:
(1)  Apply lipstick, eyeliner, and mascara.

(2)  Pack up camera gear.

(3)  Walk to nearby school, sending my patient, long-suffering husband to nearby Italian gourmet store to entertain himself while I take pictures.

(4)  Set up camera on tripod, take some photos.

(5)  Realize I didn't apply enough lipstick, attempt to apply more.  Oops, I don't have a mirror, so I'm going to have to use a series of DSLR selfies.

(5)  Take photos for real now.

(6)  Framing was awful, light on your face was bad.  Move tripod, take more photos.

(7)  See (6).

(8)  See (7).

(9)  See (10).

(11)  Find something that works, take a bajillion photos.

(12)  Re-take the last 20-30 of those photos because my patient, long-suffering husband, back from the Italian gourmet store, decided to make silly faces in the background and I didn't notice.

(13)  Pack up camera gear, walk home.

(14)  Sort through photos to find especially good photos of myself, especially embarrassing photos of my husband.

(15)  Threaten blackmail.

(16)  Edit keepers in Lightroom.


 Exhibit #4a:
(1)  Fly to Las Vegas, taking advantage of Southwest's generous free checked bag policy to take all of my camera/lighting gear with me.

(2)  Drive several hours to Death Valley.

(3)  Spend the day hiking, or, how I prefer to see it, scouting for locations for sunset photography.  Main criteria:  Scenic, clear view to the west, nearby parking lot, won't fall off a cliff and die.

(4)  Go back to room, shower, makeup.

(5)  Load up on thermal underwear because it is forty degrees out and I am wearing a sleeveless silk chiffon dress.  Why am I doing this.

(6)  Drive out to Devil's Golf Course with my fellow camera nerd dad, leaving my mom at the hotel, because, come on-- wouldn't you stay at the hotel, too?

(7)  Set up camera/lighting gear while there's still some light out.

(8)  Same process as steps (3-6) of Exhibit #1, but this time, I'm trying to do it as quickly as possible before the sunset goes away.  I am also trying not to trip and twist my ankle on the giant salt blocks in the dark.

Exhibit #4b:
(9)  Still at Devil's Golf Course, after dark this time, see if it's possible to backlight myself with the flash and do a long exposure to get the Milky Way in the background.

(10)  Several hours and much experimentation later, no satisfying results.  Difficulty balancing the exposure of the background and foreground, need flash triggers instead of using the flash as an optical slave when I'm blocking line of sight between the on-camera flash and the off-camera flash.

(11)  Realize, weeks later at home when I'm sorting through all the photos, that this one at the beginning where I was trying to get the flash settings right was actually pretty cool, but the exposure was off.

(12)  Spend at least an hour postprocessing this one shot in Lightroom. 

Exhibit #4c:
(13)  Set out back to Las Vegas, wearing that fancy evening dress because I am going to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to take outfit photos, gosh darn it.

(14)  Stop for a bathroom break in the teeming metropolis of Pahrump, Nevada.

(15)  Find a gas station.  Any gas station will do, right?

(16)  Ask the attendant of this particular godforsaken gas station where the restroom is.

(17)  Oh, it's in the bar...BAR? door?  That really sketchy one with all the slot machines and sad-looking scruffy men drinking at 10 AM?

(18)  Well, it IS a restroom, right? 

(19)  Why is everyone staring at me?  You mean you don't get young women in evening dresses coming to use your restroom all the time?

(20)  Well, that was gross.  I feel deep empathy with Lady Macbeth and her obsessive need for hand-washing. 

(21)  Experience deep regret when my mom finds a perfectly normal gas station to stop at not five minutes later.

(22)  Get to Red Rock Canyon, drive around.  Find area of park that is not somehow swarming with tourists and where the light is coming from the right direction.

(23)  Hike around a large area looking for a place where the foreground and background look right.

(24)  Now my skirt is full of static and clings to my legs because there's 0% humidity.

(25)  Set up camera gear, framing, get camera to focus on me, blah blah blah.

(26)  Wish desperately that I could use my 77mm lens instead of my 31mm lens so that I could blur out the background better, but there's no way I could make sure I'd be in the frame from that far away.  So that's out, darn darn darn.

(27)  Several hundred photos, blah blah blah.

(28)  Get home from trip.  Sort through-- between the outfit photography and the landscape photography-- tens of thousands of photos.

(29)  The photo editing in Lightroom eats up all my spare time for the next three weeks.


The things I do for art.


  1. 29 Simple steps to fab photos...yeah, I can do that...not! Thanks for the chuckle.

  2. I have always admired your photography. Improving my photography has been on the back burner, but thank-you for validating my time priorities.

    This is hilarious and I appreciate the time it took to write this up, as well as for your photos.

  3. Oh my goodness, this was hilarious! I admire your commitment to photography - but I don't think I'm at the stage of hiking in Las Vegas to find a location yet ;)

  4. love those descriptions, especially lady macbeth handwashing - I know why your photos look so good!

  5. Bwahahahahahaha!!! This made me laugh out loud all over again. Thank you for the continued mirth!

  6. Thanks for the information. Your photos are good. I always knew there was a lot to it. Which is why I'm not interested in taking photos of myself.

  7. Love this!!! You are way more patient (and tenacious) than I am. And your post is s (even more) hilarious than your comment on the blog.

  8. Thanks for the laugh! My routine is -
    1. finish garment, think about putting on appropriate undergarment, decide to do it later
    2. finally remember to take photo after wearing garment out and about and appropriate undergarment is already on, wedge myself in front of the mirror, take photos
    3. look at photos, use foul language about lighting & focus, not to mention general appearance. (Do I really look like that?!?!)
    4. decide to do it another time, apologize for lack of photos on me in my sadly neglected blog. That's IF I get far enough as updating the blog that I made a garment.